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Airlines Deal with Unruly Passengers, Again

30 Apr, 2023 Liz Carey

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Newark, NJ (WorkersCompensation.com) – Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), are dealing once again with unruly passengers who pose a threat to flight crewmembers, and airlines are taking no chances.

On Sunday, officials said a flight from Newark to Israel was turned around three hours into the flight after one of the passengers allegedly got into a shouting match with flight crew members.

United Flight 90 left Newark Liberty International Airport Sunday morning, officials said. A couple of hours into the flight, an eyewitness told Ynet, an Israeli media outlet, an unidentified man sat in a crew member seat while waiting to use the restroom. When crew members confronted him about it, the conflict escalated to the point the airline employee threatened to have the plane turned around if the man continued.

Witnesses said the man persisted, and the plane was returned to Newark. The airline confirmed that the plane was diverted because of “a disruptive passenger.”

"Law enforcement met the aircraft and removed the passenger," United said in an emailed statement. "We rebooked our customers onto a new flight that departed Sunday evening."

The incident comes just days after a woman attacked three TSA officers over her juice.

Officials said a woman allegedly attacked the three officers on April 18 because the agents confiscated her apple juice.

According to arrest documents, 19-year-old Makiah Coleman started “ranting and raving” after the agents took her juice because it is prohibited per TSA regulations. Officials said Coleman tried to grab a bin that contained her confiscated items from one of the agents, who in turn pushed her away.

Coleman then climbed over a table separating her and the TSA agent, but was grabbed by another agent to control her. Coleman struck the second agent in the head with her elbow, officials said, giving him a concussion. Agent sat Coleman down on a nearby bench, documents said.

Later, Coleman got up from the bench and attacked another TSA agent, officials said, pulling the agent by the ponytail and hitting her with her fist several times. Another agent was able to intervene and pull Coleman off the second victim.

Coleman told police that she was angry she had to leave security to get food only to go back through security, and that another TSA agent had hung her phone up while she was on a call with her mother. Coleman also told police that she attacked the agents, but that she had “kinda blacked out” during the incident.

"This unprovoked and brazen physical attack against our employees is unacceptable," the agency said in a statement. "We are grateful for our committed workforce and for the role they play in protecting the traveling public every day. Unfortunately, due to the actions of this traveler, this situation resulted in injuries to three of our TSA officers and inconvenienced approximately 450 travelers who TSA redirected to a nearby checkpoint for security screening."

Coleman was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, two counts of misdemeanor assault, criminal damage and disorderly conduct. She is scheduled to appear in Maricopa Superior Court on May 1.

The incidents come just days after the FAA referred more unruly passengers to the FBI for criminal prosecution.

On April 13, the FAA said it was handing 17 more cases of passengers behaving badly on planes. Among the referrals were a March 2023 incident when a passenger assaulted a flight attendant with a makeshift weapon after trying to open an aircraft door; a January 2023 incident where a passenger assaulted a flight attendant; three December 2022 incidents where passengers assaulted or attempted to assault flight attendants; three incidents in July 2022 where a passenger assaulted and threatened flight attendants and two incidents in April 2022 where passengers assaulted flight attendants, including one where the passenger attempted to activate the evacuation slide while the plane was in the air.

The latest reports bring to the number of unruly passenger cases brought for criminal prosecution to 250 since 2021. The FAA said that while the rate of unruly passenger incidents has fallen by more than 80 percent since hitting record-highs in 2021, “unacceptable behavior continues.”

Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen said there is "zero tolerance for unruly behavior," and "we will come after you with serious consequences." 


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    About The Author

    • Liz Carey

      Liz Carey has worked as a writer, reporter and editor for nearly 25 years. First, as an investigative reporter for Gannett and later as the Vice President of a local Chamber of Commerce, Carey has covered everything from local government to the statehouse to the aerospace industry. Her work as a reporter, as well as her work in the community, have led her to become an advocate for the working poor, as well as the small business owner.

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